Illegal Alien and Drug Smuggling
Checkpoint Just West of Del Rio
by Christopher Dow
As I come out of the west, the first warning is a speed zone sign where no town ever thought to be. A few hills and curves later, stop signs and orange cones come into view. Beside the road is a small metal building shaded by a metal canopy, and parked next to it are a couple of Border Patrol SUVs. As I slow and approach, a sun-browned man in green uniform and dark sunglasses emerges from the shade and waits at the stop sign.
There are questions. “Are you a United States citizen? Where are you coming from? What was the purpose of your visit? Where are you going?”
This is the third Border Patrol checkpoint I’ve passed today, and it’s only noon. I’m reminded of movies about World War II and the Cold War, where the landscape of Europe seems littered with border crossings, suspicion, and guns attempting to control interlopers. When I first passed this way thirty years ago, there wasn’t a single checkpoint, but these days, the government suspects us all.
The Border Patrol officer listens to my answers and looks me over. Satisfied, he says, “Move on.” I do, with an inner smile and a flutter in my stomach. Once again I have fooled them into thinking I belong and that my journey has purpose and a beginning and end.
Not long afterwards, Amistad Reservoir comes into view. After miles of desert, its sheer volume and turquoise waters are a shock. It’s as if a bit of sky has broken off and fallen into an alien residence of ravine and dry wash. All this water transgresses the border, washes Mexican and U.S. shores alike. Certainly that can’t be legal. I wonder if the Border Patrol knows.